Living the good life, the healthy way

Common ground 2

Publicerad 2013-12-29 17:15:00 i Living life,

Continuing on common grounds of the most popular diets at the moment (accordning to myself), I shall now go through number two.
No grains

Since the 70's and onwards we have been taught that it is the saturated fats, and fatty food that make us ill and obese, mainly based on the studies made by a man called Ancel Keyes. Therefore we have been advised to decrease the amount of fat we eat and increase the amount of carbs we eat. Especially bread, pasta and other grain based products. All the while the major population has continued to grow sicker and fatter, many times despite trying to follow the health recommendations of the governments.
How is that?
Well, looking at our evolutionary path it is kind of hard to imagine human beings ate vast amounts of bread, pasta, müsli, cereals, cakes, cinnamon buns, and the like. I would imagine they ate small portions of grains, when they found them, and prepared and ate them carefully. Cause here is the thing. Grains only became a big part of our diet when we started to settle and realised we can grow plants that provide grains. Yes, they were an important part of our development, because they were easy to store and keep even throughout winter when other food was scarce.
However, preparing and cooking them was also an important part and through that process humans could acquire the much needed nutrients (which in fairness was needed by the people at the time). Nowadays we have the luxury of being able to grow and purchase much more nutrinally beneficial products that easily can replace grain anytime. 
So what is the problem with grains?
There are a few different problem with grains, especially if they haven't been prepared properly.
  1. The insulin problem. It isn't just sugar that causes insulin to run amoc in your body. All carbs will be converted into glucose, and glucose is actually toxic to have in your blood-stream (that's why high blood-sugar is no good). So the body produces the hormone insulin to take care of the glucose, by "delivering" it to your cells (mainly muscle), so that they can be used by your muscles as energy. The issue is that most people today are far less active and eat far more carbohydrates today than we did before agriculture, and even up until more recent history. So the energy never gets burned, and thus it turns into fat (easier for the body to store for more harsher times). So yes, obesity and fatness are actually caused by over-consumtion of sugar and carbs, rather than fat.
  2. To top the insulin problem, the body actually suffers from the constant hormone fluxes and production, and is very likely to develop systemic inflammation (although there are also other dietary causes to this, but sugar and fast carbs are one major cause).
  3. Furtheron, grains (and also legumes and nuts) contain phytates that are believed to block the absorbtion of minerals such as calcium and iron. Grains also contain the anti-nutrient lectins, which is a mild form of poison (to prevent the seeds from being eaten). Lectins prevent the GI tract from repairing itself, leaving it vulnerable to bacterial growth ---> inflammation. Gluten is the third content in our most common grains (wheat, rye and barley), which is a protein that our digestive systems find extremely hard to handle. Some scientists believe that up to a third of the population are intolerant of gluten, more or less. Gluten intolerance causes an inflammatory response and can lead to skin problems, arthritis, acid reflux, auto-immune disorders and celiacs disease.
Several studies show that wheat is strongly connected to weight gain, and that weight loss if most efficiently achieved when cutting grains out of your diet.
I believe that the abscence of grains in the three very popular diets is a major contributor to their success. I would recommend to everyone to reconsider your grains. I do not say never to eat them, but rather to cut down, and exchange some (or most) of it for better sources of carbs, like vegetables, root veggies and fruit. 
Sources:, 1,2,3

Common ground 1

Publicerad 2013-12-20 14:44:00 i Living life, Wellness and health,

Talking about the popular diets at the moment I basically said that, if we were to follow all those rules of what is healthy and what is not, we would be eating leafy greens and nothing else. It doesn't sound so appealing to me, how about you?
What has made these diets so popular then?
People who follow these diets are all lyrical about their specific choice of foods, and would like for everyone to join their "salvation" and start eating the same way. What is it that makes them so special, and how can you get the same feeling of wellbeing from eating almost nothing but meat, as eating almost nothing but vegetables, nuts and fruit?
People on these diets often give anecdotes of how their stomach cramps have disappeared, their sore and tense muscles have loosened up, their head-aches have been relieved and most of all they experience a much longed for weight-loss, energy and general wellbeing - feeling sharp and alert and satisfied.
I believe that there is a few common grounds in these diets that contribute to these feelings, and enough talking, here is number 1:
No calorie counting
None of these eating habits require calorie counting. You are encouraged to eat as much as you like as long as you stick to "the rules". You are encouraged to start eating when you feel hungry (not because it is now 12 o'clock), and stop eating when you feel satisfied.
Why do I believe this is a good thing? Because I've been down the road of calorie counting. It gives a false sense of control. You feel good about yourself when you stay within your daily limit. The problem is that, to so many people, the sense of control quickly becomes an obsessing habit. It becomes scary to not know how many calories a meal contains. It feels like you've let yourself down when you have gone over the limit. It can quickly become something that spirales out of control, instead of giving control. If that makes sense. It also gives the brain a false logical train of thought, that the less you eat, the better, right?
Well, as we've seen, starvation harms the body and the brain. We become obsessed with food, depressed, anxious around food, anxious in general and cannot simply think straight. Our bodies and brains need fuel. If we count calories, we run the risk of cutting the amount of fuel needed by too much, until we cannot function normally anymore (whether that be physical or mental).
Furthermore, all calories are not the same. OK, let me rephrase that. Not all calories are handled by the body the same way. It is true that you will lose weight by eating a small amount of calories coming from junk food (for example all the diet shakes, juices, bars that are sold to us as a quick fix). The problem is that they contain little valuable nutrition and will leave you feeling hungry, deprived and unsatisfied. As soon as you start eating normally again, you are very likey to gain weight again.
There is also a difference in weight loss, and fat loss. Losing weight by cutting calories but still eating junk food, most likely mean that you lose both fat and muscle. Losing weight by eating until you're satisfied, and food that contain high quality nutrition will lead to greater fat loss, and a better chance of maintaining muscle mass.
Not counting calories while eating these diets are closely tied to the second common ground, that I will write about another time.
And once more, these are all my own thoughts, based on information I've read about health and nutrition. I do not tell anyone what to do, I'm simply putting my thoughts into words. I do not tell you this is right for you. Just that it is right for me :)
Sources:, dietdoctor.comnew england journal of medicine

How to know what is "right"?

Publicerad 2013-12-18 13:32:00 i Living life, Wellness and health,

So, I wanted to share some thoughts on food and health. I'll try to keep a red thread a not get carried away as I normally do.
The jungle of diets
There are many ways to eat healthy. There is no magic diet that works for everyone. If you want to improve your health you must not forsake your mental health. Find an eating habit that works for you, without leaving you feeling deprived of foods you love.
Some people thrive on LCHF (low carb, high fat) - eating almost no carbs whatsoever. That means elimiting anything starchy or carby. No flour, potatoes, grains, oats, fruit, root vegetables, beans or sweet treats. They eat mainly animal protein, green vegetables and dairy products (full-fat).
Some people feel great on a so called paleo diet - avoiding grains, beans, dairy and industrially processed foods. They eat mainly animal proteins, vegetables, fruits, nuts and healthy fats from meat, fish, avocados, olive oil, and ghee (butter that has been boiled to remove the lactose).
Some people tell stories of how awesome they feel from a raw food, vegan diet - eating nothing that has been heated above 42 degrees, all to maintain optimum nutrition within the food. This will mean that you cannot eat food that require cooking, for example grains, most meats, eggs, beans. Some beans are eaten if they have been sprouted. These people most often also avoid dairy products and refined foods.
Then there are people who sort of mix and match, some eat GI (like myself), some eat just vegetarian or vegan. Some just eat. Food is primarily meant to feed our bodies and provide nutrition that will keep us healthy, alert and energized through life. But people, human beings, have a more complex relationship to food than just eating to survive and maintain optimal health. We gather around food. We socialize around food. We build bonds and show love with food. It is so important to our mental and social wellbeing that looking only on the physical aspect of food is, in my opinion, rather foolish (I've been there myself, it is not nice).
So if I want to change my lifestyle to the better, how do I know what is right?
It is hard, because we are being bombarded every day about which diet is the most efficient. All of the above diets are popular right now and if you were to believe all of them and their arguments you would be left with nothing but some leafy greens and water on your plate. That is just not sufficient, either for your physical health, nor for your mental. Actually, there are studies that suggests that starvation causes not only physical deterioration, but also mental stress, depression and anxietys (source).
So what are you supposed to eat to become the healthiest, best, optimal you? To be honest, no one can give you the answer that is right for you, except yourself. But there are a few things in common with the above popular diets that I believe contribute to their popularity (the feeling of being lighter, energized and filled with "glow"). I will go through each common ground in separate posts - but remember, these are things that I, myself, have observed and noted while reading up about health and nutrition. I do not say that my thoughts and beliefs are true to you or anyone else. They are merely my gathered ideas of how to live a healthy life, with good choices for both my soul and body.

Starting new

Publicerad 2013-12-18 10:36:00 i Living life, Wellness and health,

Ah, on my regurlar blog I try to stay clear of preaching about healthy choices and exercise, because I simply do not want anyone to feel judged by their choices, and that is never my intention. I used to be sort of blind to how my words came out and the feeling that I made better choices than others got the better of me many times. Looking back through the archives of this blog I realise how aggressively my interest for health and exercise came across.
The problem is when you have a passion for something and you want to spread and share the word it is hard sometimes to not get too passionate. And health is a sensitive issue. People do not want to feel guilty about themselves, for not exercising hard enough, or for not saying no to that extra slice of cake. Before, I used to feel guilty about these things. And I felt good about myself when I "behaved". So I wanted others to feel good about themselves too. Since then I have worked on my self-awareness, self-esteem and self-concept and I have become so much more gentle with myself and others. I have come to understand that feeling good about oneself is not reliant on "behaving" - it is reliant on how you speak to yourself. It is reliant on how well you listen to your body and not putting all your worth on being "good".
I am still incredibly interested in health, but it is no longer so tightly tied to my self-worth. I exercise because I enjoy it. I go to the classes I enjoy, I do the workout I am in the mood for. I have stopped the voice in my head telling me I need to do legs today, because I did arms the other day. I simply do whatever I feel like.  Exercise makes me feel happy, energized and confident - even more so since I removed the "perform" part of it.
Eating healthy makes me feel happy and energized too. And I miss writing about my thoughts on healthy food. Sometimes I read a few articles and I want to print down my thoughts on it. Or I want to share interesting information I've found.
I want to start blogging here again, but in a much humbler way. I want to be an example of how to live healthy without any feelings of guilt or pressures of performance. I want to be an inspiration to others (if they ever find this blog), a role model for others. I may not blog here as often as my other blog, because it will be mainly health related posts on here, with recipes and fitness as the main topic, but I will come here every now and then!
If any of my words ever come across as preaching, guilt tripping or anything alike, please let me know so I can try to rephrase my words.
This is a new start :)

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